Frederick Nietzsche

Frederick Wilhelm Nietzsche was born in Prussia on October 15, 1844. His father and grandfather were pastors, but he grew up to reject the Christian faith. And although popular history has associated Nietzsche with Nazism, it is surprising to the modern reader to find that his work is not compatible with the philosophies of Hitler’s Third Reich.
Nietzsche’s sister married a nazi soldier and liberally edited her deceased brother’s work. This mutated collage was passed around Hitler’s cabinet and consequently, many of Nietzsche’s catch phrases were adopted by the nazi regime. An honest and thorough reading of his work, however, show that anti-semitism and fierce nationalism — hallmarks of the Third Reich — were repugnant to Nietzsche, who even praised the “superior” intellect of the Jewish europeans of his era.

As a child, Nietzsche was a gifted music student and avid reader. At the age of 24, before completing his university studies, he was offered the Chair of Classical Philology at the
University of Basel. Then the youngest ever to be appointed to this position.
From 1870-71 he served as a medical orderly in the Franco-Prussian war. He was infected with diphtheria and dysentery and possibly syphillis during his enlistment. These were the beginning of health problems that would plague Nietzsche for life and eventually drive him into seclusion.
From 1879 until 1888, Nietzsche travelled to temperate climates to ease his lungs and headaches. It was during this time that he wrote his most enduring works. Although he is not responsible for the Nazi regime’s crimes or philosophy, his works are sternly atheistic and helped give birth the the Existentialist movement of the early 1900’s. Albert Camus (The Stranger) and Jean Paul Sartre were particularly influenced by Nietzsche’s nihilism.
The following are some of the more popularly known principles of Nietzsche’s philosophy:
– Beyond Good and Evil:
he saw religious morality (particularly Judaism & Christianity) as “master-slave” morality. Nietzsche displays a typical misunderstanding of judeochristian concepts of morality while making this point. He saw “christian” morality as stating that only “heavenly” things should be sought. That piety, meager living, poverty and suffering were encouraged and that everything wordly, such as wealth, comfort, health were iscouraged by biblical principles. So he believed that judeochristianity thrived in europe and america because it allowed the supressed masses (i.e.: peasants under european monarchies and slaves under american plantations) to suffer on earth, feeling they were going to be especially well received in the here-after. Biblical ethics are not the simplistic dichotomies Nietzsche painted them to be. Riches and honour on earth are often companions to those who follow Christ. Poverty and suffering are not encouraged, even though they are sometimes present in the believer’s life. The fabric of ethical teachings in the Bible center around justice and righteousness, not money, health or lack thereof.
– God is Dead:
Nietzsche’s most famous catch-phrase is “God is dead.” He wrote that as more and more people awaken to the notion that there is no God, the world would sink into a chaotic battlefield. Although he did not believe God was real, he did articulate that the masses needed the concept of God to herd them into orderly living. Almost 3 decades before the two World Wars, and during an increasingly secular age, Nietzsche’s predictions proved grimly accurate.
Interestingly, Nietzsche noted that in the absence of God, men and women would have to discipline themselves to “determined joy” and find purpose in their lives. It is curious to note that nearly all nihilist and existentialist philosophers agree that purpose and joy receive a deadly blow by the notion of life without God. And they then attempt to create purpose and joy outside of God or they commit suicide. C.S Lewis stated that “in a world without fluids thirst is impossible.” If men and women need purpose and joy as much as their bodies need air and water, then the God who even atheists admit is the strongest source of these things suddenly appears far less ridiculous.
– Übermensch:
Unlike the Nazi’s “Superman,” Nietzsche’s ubermensch was not anti-semitic, blond, blue eyed and fiercely patriotic to the German Fatherland. In fact, the concept of Übermensch is not an important part of Nietzsche’s work. It is often translated as Beyond Man and stands for the type of man that Nietzsche felt would be necessary in a world where God was not believed to exist. A Beyond Man lives “beyond” good and evil and religious belief. Nietzsche’s basic description of the Beyond Man is an individual that rejects living in light of the afterlife and Judgment, but becomes fully focused on and pre-occupied with life in the here and now. This philosophy is prevalent in our modern materialist world. The unction to fulfill the now and foresake the eternal life is perhaps the most practical step towards damnation. Christ and Nietzsche are flatly contradictory of one another on practical daily living. Christ calls for dependence on God the Father and to live in light of the inevitability of Judgment. Nietzsche asks us to keep our eyes on our feet as Christ warns of the coming cliff edge. One of these men is correct. Only one.
– Will to Power: More primary than a will to survive, Nietzsche saw the Will to Power as all consuming in the natural world. He stated that most often, men seek to dominate and influence and become the center of their world. He did not necessarily praise this tendency, but he offered no reason to stop it. After all, if this life is pointless and getting your kicks is all you can look forward to, what possible carrot can we dangle in front of a Hitler to deter his own Will to Power. In fact, this facet of Nietzsche’s philosophy was well embodied in the multiple atheist regimes of the early 20th century. Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and Hilter’s Germany were driven by an elite few who ruled powerless masses and planned on doing so for the remainder of their lives. Without the First Commandment, mankind defaults towards self-worship and a satanic drive to be the center of the cosmos. To put even God’s head under their feet.
In 1888, Nietzsche began to show signs of dementia. He was arrested after watching a man whip his horse. Throwing his arms around the horse he wept bitterly and was taken away by police. During his unravelling he sent non-sensical postcards to friends and family. He was diagnosed as suffering from tertiary syphillis and died in August of 1900 at the age of 56.
Legend has it that during the last years of his life, he was silent for months on end. Then would burst into frenzies of speech. According to the accounts, near his death he would burst out with verse after verse of the New Testament which his mother had taught him to memorize as a child.
Could it be that Christ ruled the final moments of his life? That the losing of a mind that had battled its creator was an act of mercy and salvation. One day, we shall know…

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